NEW YORK — Six in 10 dog parents believe that their furry friends have social lives that are just as lively, if not more so, than their own. A new poll of 2,000 dog owners also finds that 34 percent believe that their dog has an easier time making new friends than they do.
Most dogs seem to form bonds that mirror our own, as 62 percent of those polled say their dog has both friends and “frenemies.” Moreover, 52 percent believe their dog has a best friend. Almost half (49%) say their dog has a boyfriend or girlfriend in their social circles, according to the results.
The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of PetSafe, finds that dog parks are magical places where dog friendships can blossom (43%). Dog parks help not just dogs but also their parents connect with their community. Thirty-nine percent of dog parents feel more connected to their neighborhood through these spaces. On average, dog owners have made friends with at least three people solely because their dogs met each other.
For some dog owners, going to dog parks has become a routine. On average, they take their pets to the park about four times a week. Dogs find joy in dog parks in different ways. Thirty-two percent love the freedom of roaming around without a leash. Twenty-five percent enjoy meeting other dogs, and 12 percent enjoy just cooling off in the water features.
Shade and plenty of space are two other things important to some dogs and their owners, as 28 percent say they wish their local park had more shade. Some pups prefer room to roam by themselves away from loud noises (44%) or fellow dogs (15%).
“One of the most rewarding experiences that dogs and their families can share at their local dog park is making new friends together,” says global director of PetSafe brand Karla Attanasio, in a statement. “It’s so important that every dog park offers a place where both people and pets feel safe and comfortable. A dog park should be a place where strangers become friends, every day!”
Nearly half of the respondents (48%) have a dog park within walking distance, while 33 percent do not. While 75 percent visit their nearest park, 25 percent are willing to journey farther for a sense of belonging and for their pet. This happens mostly because their dog’s friends are at the park farther away (66%). Pet owners are ready to travel up to 18 miles for the best dog park experience.
Four in 10 believe the closer park is too small for their dog. Also, 43 percent feel that the nearest dog park isn’t kept in good condition. Five in 10 (53%) wish for more dog-friendly parks where they can bring their furry companions. Additionally, they hope that their local community can become more accommodating to dogs than it currently is.
“Dogs are naturally social, and often they can help us come out of our own shells, too,” adds Attanasio. “Building and maintaining safe, enjoyable dog parks is critical to creating more dog-friendly communities where pups and their people can form new relationships to last a lifetime.”
This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 dog owners was commissioned by PetSafe between Aug. 14 and Aug. 16, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).